Power Play Handicapping: The Hidden Impact of NHL Referees on Betting

Officials on Ice Often Overlooked when Handicapping but Important

By Dana Lane

NHL betting and handicapping often neglects one portion of the game incredibly important to winning and losing — that’s the historical tendencies of game officials. In a league that is impacted heavily by power play units, we’re looking at the officials’ tendencies and their impact on NHL odds.

Let’s go through various ways you can put cash down on the NHL and which referee is best for, say, a moneyline wager on the home team. Then we’ll take a look at historical data for each to find out how consistent it is from season to season. The data suggest that NHL referees’ betting impact most affects the total.

O’Rourke, Markovic Tops Puckline Home Winnings

First, you want to make sure that you’re betting on a referee who received consistent assignments. To date, an official should have at least 30 games under his belt; less than that and sample size can be an issue. For example, Cody Beach has paid out +393 units for home teams against the puck line in games he’s reffed — but he has been involved in only 15 assignments as a second-year pro. Let’s filter our attention to the veteran NHL referees’ betting impact.

A six-year pro, Dan O’Rourke, is clearly the number one guy you want to see on the ice when betting on a home puckline. The Calgary native has produced 923 units of profit for home bettors, almost 350 units more than Michael Markovic who is second with 574 units.

O’Rourke played three seasons in the WHL (in addition to the ECHL and a few games in the IHL). Known more as a scrapper than a goal scorer, he accrued 438 penalty minutes. Under his whistle, home teams are 24-15 ATS to date, with an average home margin of 1.18 goals. He is one of two officials that own a home margin of +1.00 or more.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much consistency from season to season. In 2021-2022, home teams for O’Rourke were 34-40 (-638 units) against the puckline. Not until the postseason did O’Rourke’s games start to favor the home team, with nine of his 12 games cashing home puck line tickets. If we go deeper, we see that home teams have thrived with O’Rourke on the ice — 49-28-9 last season and 34-14-12 in 2020-2021. Add in the 31-7-1 record in 2022-2023, and we’ve got an official under whom home teams have won 114 times in 163 games (69.94%) over the last three years.

Michael Markovic just climbed over the 100-game mark this season but has made an impact for bettors with 574 puck line units won (28-21). For moneyline bettors, home teams are 28-16-5 with Markovic on the ice, and 54-31-11 (.635) over the last two seasons. Interesting to note that his average game total is 6.41 and 6.40 last season. That shows consistency when thinking about betting totals.

L’Ecuyer Continues Total Consistency

Behind O’Rourke and Markovic is Frederick L’Ecuyer whose games have produced 563 units of profit for home puckline bettors. The Quebec City native got into the business at the age of 16 and quickly became known as an official favorable to under bettors.

So far this season, the under produced 879 units of profit when L’Ecuyer has the whistle, and 40 of his 69 games went under the number last season. Speaking of totals, that’s where the referees really impact the game, with some definitive NHL referees’ betting impact that should be taken into account moving forward.

Referees Total Personalities

Four referees have cashed under wagers consistently this season: Kyle Rehman 16-35 (-2030 units); Trevor Hanson 16-31 (-1612); Kelly Sutherland 17-30 (-1465); and Chris Rooney 18-29 (-1207). Combined these four refs are 67-125 (65.10%) to the under, making bettors 6314 units this season. Their impact is usually felt most by the road teams, who average less than 2.80 goals per game.

Three of the four rank in the top ten with the only exception being Chris Rooney. Rooney is the sole ref on the list where road teams average 3.02 goals per game, ranking him 15th. Hanson, a British Columbia native, leads the league in goals per game with 5.44, followed by Rehman (5.75), and Reid Anderson (5.81). Anderson gets a cup of coffee in the NHL from time to time but is a full-time minor league official, so don’t look for his name on most nights with just over 100 games to his name.

We caution using historical data from season to season because, like players, referees refine their craft and thinking. Of the four mentioned refs that were definitely under bets this season, only Rehman was ranked in the top 10 in 21-22 with a 33-38 record to the under.

Here in chart form, the NHL referees’ betting impact of top five officials for wagers on the puck line and total.

Puck Line

Last Updated: 02/21/2023 ODDS HOME TEAM RECORDS
Dan O’ Rourke +923 units 24-15
Michael Markovic +574 units 28-21
Frederick L’Ecuyer +563 units 28-22
Justin St. Pierre +506 units 29-22
Mitch Dunning +504 units 23-23

 

Totals

Last Updated: 02/21/2023 ODDS WON/LOST
Kyle Rehman -2030 units 16-35
Trevor Hanson -1612 units 16-31
Kelly Sutherland -1465 units 17-30
Chris Rooney -1207 units 21-28
Frederick L’Ecuyer -879 units 20-27

A 30-year Las Vegas resident in his 26th year as a professional sports handicapper, Dana intertwines a strong analytical approach along with his trusted intuition. Dana consistently uses his contacts to give his followers a consistent stream of income.


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